Flu outbreak could be worse in 2018, 2019 than last year

Flu outbreak in Texoma could be worse in 2018 and 2019 than last year
Updated: Sep. 7, 2018 at 6:24 PM CDT
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United Regional saw so many patients last year they had to transfer out some of their less...
United Regional saw so many patients last year they had to transfer out some of their less sick patients. (Source: KAUZ)

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Flu shots are beginning to be offered at pharmacies, grocery stores, and doctors offices throughout Texoma with flu season right around the corner.

Many people fell victim to the flu last year leading to an increase in doctor visits, United Regional transferring some of their less sick patients out due to a lack of room, and some schools closing to disinfect.

"I worked in healthcare back in 2009 with the Swine Flu and I think it was very comparable to that," Family Nurse Practitioner, Jana Vieth said.

Now doctors offices and hospitals are preparing for the next flu season, one the CDC is predicting to be just as bad, if not worse, than last years.

"Based off of Australia as they're in their peak flu season right now, they are right at, if not higher, than last year," Vieth said. "So based on that information, we expect it to be the same if not worse."

With flu shots now being offered at some places, Vieth is encouraging people to get it sooner rather than later to prevent a large outbreak.

"Everyone that's six months and older should be vaccinated," she said. "They're wanting everyone to be vaccinated by the end of October."

Vieth said part of the problem last year was an ineffective flu shot.

But she doesn't see that being the case this year.

"Last year the CDC said that it worked around 10 percent if not less than that," Vieth said. "This year they're predicting it to be anywhere from 40 to 60 percent effective."

She said Wichita Falls never really recovered from last years flu outbreak.

"We still had positive cases each month over the summer," Vieth said. "So it never quite went fully away."

Vieth urges people to take it seriously and follow some steps to stay healthy.

"Have good hand hygiene, stay away from people that are sick, and if you have the flu or have been diagnosed with the flu, stay home," Vieth said. "Wash your hands, wear a mask, and say a prayer."

She said those who take a proactive approach to the flu will be less likely to find themselves in a waiting room this winter.

In December of 2016 United Regional saw 32 flu cases.

That number went up by more than 300 in December of 2017.

Vieth said it's very important people follow those steps so Texoma doesn't go down the same route it did last year.

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